Stand out, but not too much.

As displayed by Lady Gaga’s substantial decrease in album sales and general attention, the obsession to stand out and be different (peaking in 2012) has cooled down. We don’t see Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry wearing the same outrageous multicolored outfits with props around their body to the same extent they once did. Instead, we see celebrities wearing more subtly outrageous or understated outfits, like Rihanna in her swarvoski crystal transparent dress or Nicki Minaj’s cover art for her single, Anaconda. Following this thread, artists are grappling with how to walk that line of subtelty and risk taking. Despite the decrease in aggressive attempts at standing out, artists Maddie & Tae have come out with a track that walks this line brilliantly.

The country duo harmonizes in a track called “Girl In a Country Song” where they manage to critique the country music genre that relies on highly sexist representations of women. In the video, premiered on NPR by Ann Powers, the two hit a “role reversal” button, where the men are portrayed in the outfits that women wear in most country videos. It is a satire of a serious problem, and it may be one of the first real instances of this kind of main stream critique.

There are a multitude of social issues that main stream artists could be singing about, but when its an issues that is close to an artist’s craft in such a way as Maddie & Tae’s track, it is a production opportunity not to be missed. By being one of the first country music acts to make this statement, the hype the duo is receiving is massive. This suggests that in the transition from extreme to subtle, more artists should dare to be different in this new and understated way. With this change comes an engagement with fans that begs them to think and consider in ways that artist’s haven’t expected of their fans in a long time. Similarly, that level of engagement strengthens the artist to consumer relationship; suddenly the relationship is no longer founded only upon shock value, but on mutual concern and greater interest.

Written by Nicole Holoboff, CEN Assistant.


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